Michael's Dispatches


The Pathetic Afghan Army
Will Obama Fumble Iraq?

11 March 2009

The disconnect between reporting and reality on Iraq was dramatic during 2005.  Media stories about the incompetence and hopelessness of the Iraqi army and police were like the soup of the day, every day.  Yet month by month, before my eyes, Iraqi security forces were improving.  Reporting this truth earned the label of “stooge,” because the soup of the day was Failure.  Millions of Americans and Europeans apparently wanted Iraqis to suffer because those same Americans and Europeans seemed to hate George Bush.

Today Iraq is succeeding, but as Generals Petraeus or Odierno might say, the situation remains fragile and reversible.

Whereas the Bush-war ended in a new if messy democracy, this year we could see an Obama-war begin; the new President has sent a clear signal that we intend to mostly abandon Iraq during this crucial transition period.  Today, the progress is obvious.  But if Iraq descends back into chaos, the Obama-war, a newborn war, will not be a result of U.S. aggression, but of limp leadership intent on fulfilling campaign promises that were misinformed to begin with.

Back in 2003, it was understandable that many people would detest what they believed was an illegal war – despite that Hussein refused to abide by U.N. resolutions – but it was telling to see that many people apparently wished cruelty upon the Iraqis out of malice for the United States or George Bush.  Those wishes were coming from cold, cruel hearts, pretending to care.  Among these people were the cruel souls who would later stand outside military hospitals, mocking young men and women who had suffered amputations and other grievous injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Today there remain people who wish to precipitously disjoin from the growing success in Iraq, and who apparently ultimately wish to see Iraq fail out of sheer malice not toward Iraq, but toward certain politicians and governments.  If President Obama fumbles the evacuation of combat forces, they may get their wish.

But while millions of people wished to see Iraq fail, courageous Iraqi volunteers lined up to join the army and police.  They were frequently blown to pieces while they waited.  Nevertheless, the Iraqi army and police grew like bamboo.  Every day the body counts rose, satisfying the pernicious souls parading as peace lovers who seemed to relish the mounting losses.  I once reported that apparently more people had been killed on an annual basis under the wars and genocides of Saddam Hussein, than were dying in the current war.  This observation was made without narration or opinion, but it unleashed a special venom that strikes only at the ankles of inconvenient truths.   Should we have expected otherwise, after our government had behaved so arrogantly and deceptively?

Today the Iraqi army and police are on their feet and the government and economy are improving, though still in need of years of assistance, and at this time of mounting success, we are leaving.  The enemies seem to be biding their time.

Going into Iraq was a decision made by many.  Pulling out so quickly is a decision made by one man.

Yet the Afghanistan situation was nearly opposite.  Most westerners seem to want to see Afghanistan succeed, and they veritably chant about poverty and women’s rights, though few people actually are willing to put themselves in harm’s way to achieve dreamy visions.  Whatever the case, the public and the media gave a free pass to dozens of nations in Afghanistan, and today about 40 nations are directly involved.  Some of the military bases look like a carnival of uniforms, and the soldiers behave under a carnival of rules.  By the time you add in all the contractors, aid workers, “friendly” spies and deadly enemies, it’s likely that people from a hundred countries are inside Afghanistan at this moment.  Despite the broad representation, until recently we called it “The Forgotten War.”

Today we have an American President and Secretary of Defense who have essentially kicked, prodded and begged our allies to get more serious about Afghanistan, but mostly to no avail.  And so 17,000 more American troops are kissing their loved ones goodbye, many of them for the last time in their lives, and heading into Afghanistan.  Per capita combat deaths probably will be higher in Afghanistan this year than for any year in Iraq.  The situation is very serious for the relatively few soldiers fighting there.  Some are in combat every day and night.

The AfPak war began more than seven years ago.  It is fair to ask why are we sending more U.S. troops today.   After all, we’ve had plenty of time to build an army and police.  If drive-by journalists listen to some of the commanders on the ground, they might come back with reports that all is okay, and that the Afghan army is coming along nicely, and that certain writers are exaggerating.  I’ve had those same briefings from commanders.  Just as in 2004 Iraq, I believe that Americans and Europeans have been deceived by their governments.

I’ve asked many key officers why we are not using our Special Forces (specifically Green Berets) in a more robust fashion to train Afghan forces.  The stock answers coming from the Green Beret world – from ranking officers anyway – is that they are taking a serious role in training Afghan forces.  But the words are inconsistent with my observations.  The reality is that the Green Berets – the only outfit in the U.S. military who are so excellently suited to put the Afghan army into hyperdrive – are mostly operating with small groups of Afghans doing what appears to be Colorado mule deer hunts in the mountains of Afghanistan.  Special Forces A-teams are particularly well suited to train large numbers of people, but are not doing so.

Command will dispute my words, and privately have been doing so.  But they cannot point to a map of Afghanistan and show where they are training significant numbers of Afghans.  This information would not be secret or even confidential.  Our troops who are partnered up with Afghans are often not the right choice for that particular job.

Nevertheless, some officers are already privately disputing my claims about the Afghan Army, and so I present these words from the British government:



….Q<28> <Sir John Stanley:> To clarify, I am asking you to set out, as best you can, how you think we can achieve an Afghanistan where the insurgency has ceased-ideally totally or to the greatest possible extent-and where there is a stable Government in place, who hopefully are democratically elected and respect basic human rights and in particular the rights of women.

<Professor Farrell:> That is a very challenging question. I will say two things on the centre of gravity-the key thing that will unlock success in the campaign. Currently, the centre of gravity is building the capacity of the Afghan security forces. There are 85 battalions in the Afghan national army. It is very small with only 68,000 troops. We must double that force size. More battalions must be able to operate independently. Of the 85 battalions, one can operate independently at battalion level and only 26 can operate with ISAF [international security assistance force] support at battalion level. We need to increase the training and capability. We must increase the Afghan air force, which is pathetically small.

The key to getting out of Afghanistan is to build the Afghan forces. British practice on that has been very good over the last year. They have increased the co-embedding of Afghan and British battalions. An Afghan battalion is partnered with every British battle group in the Helmand area of operations. However, more could be done. For example, the operational mentor and liaison teams are 40% under strength. We must put more resources into building the Afghan air force and national army. That will give us success.

<Colonel Langton:> I agree with that, but in order to do it the international forces must have a unified strategy, which they do not. They must have a unified command structure, which they do not.

This is not necessarily about NATO. NATO happens to be leading the international security assistance force, but it has been led by other bodies. NATO is not essential to this function. We could revert to Turkish command, which is how it all started. However, there must be more unity of strategy. I have heard Afghan Ministers complain that individual countries are delivering their individual strategies through their embassies. I have struggled to find another example of where that has happened.

This testimony, that only a single battalion out of 85 can operate independently, and only 26 can operate even with support, sharply diverges from what high commanders will tell journalists in Afghanistan.  Our Special Forces (Green Berets) in particular have taken only a passing role in the training.  Some can argue otherwise, but as we roll into 2009, we have been at war in Afghanistan for more than seven years.  More than 2,500 days.  How much is it costing us per day?  $100 million?  $200 million?  We have little to show for the lost limbs and lives.  According to the British testimony, only a single battalion can fight without a real army holding its hand.  The police are in far worse condition.

We are not busy teaching Afghans to fish; we are busy fishing for them, and they are slowly but surely getting tired of us.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    annie&neatie · 13 years ago
    Yes, Obama will fumble the war in Iraq just like he is fumbling on our economy and redistribution of our wealth here at home. I have a dear friend in Afghanistan right now...our men are great but that's about it. It's a hell hole.
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    CBRent524 · 13 years ago
    I worry about our forces over there. I agree - more could be done. Words cannot truly express what it will mean if we fail to win the peace in Iraq. Afghanistan's a mess too. It always has been. I fear it will become our Chechneya.

    Your work is very important. Please keep up the good work.
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    casstx · 13 years ago
    My husband is on those Colorado mule deer hunts, and he says much the same thing as you do, we're blowing a big chance there to succeed. You can't beat these terrorists and insurgents by simply hunting them down or sending in conventional forces. The Afghans themselves need to stand up and be willing to defend their own like the Iraqis were. But they're still too tribal. Meanwhile, I stand the chance of dealing with a rather silent death, because of the misguided policy of the President. Your opinion is absolutely on spot, from my POV.
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    dfekpenyong · 13 years ago
    I feel extremely angry that the lives of our men and women have been lost to build a free Iraq and now their sacrifice is being dishonored by people who look at the war in Iraq with hands half covering their eyes. I pray that somehow the President would change his course so this will not ultimately occur. It is my opinion that we should be a country of our word and finish what we have begun.
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    coastdaze · 13 years ago
    Interesting reporting, M. For me, it's like that ol' saying, "the inmates are running the asylum"... each day I have to wonder what in the world this Administration is thinking. The most ridiculous decisions are being made...not the least of which is the location of or promised pull-out of our troops. It seems it's all too big and unwieldy to get a handle on now. I do wonder why we're apparently not training these armies/police to do the job of taking care of themselves?
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    Bruce Obermeyer · 13 years ago
    Douglas Corrigan became a legendary aviator, not because of his accomplishments as a pilot but rather because of a supposed navigational error. In 19 8, Corrigan "mistakenly" flew from New York to Ireland--when he was supposed to be flying from New York to California--because he seemingly misread his compass. For Americans, who were caught in the midst of the Great Depression, Corrigan's antic provided a great deal of humor and uplift and he became a national folk hero. To this day, Corrigan's nickname, "'Wrong Way' Corrigan," remains a stock colloquial phrase in popular culture. People use it to describe anyone who blunders and goes the wrong way.

    No, I don't think this Administration is "fumbling" the ball; against all conventional wisdom, they are intentionally racing it toward our own goal. The unanswered question is, "Why"?
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    Jim Henderson · 13 years ago
    The possiblity of O'Bama loosing both wars is frightening to me. This thing appears to be run by a bunch of amatuers. It makes me sick. If he doesn't pull his head out of the sand (or whereever he has it) we may well loose both wars and many, many, lives for nothing. All to satisfy the left and anti-war liberals (aka "Progressives" now). I have had friends in the sandbox and some are still there. I hope they keep thier heads down.

    God bless those over there and you Michael.
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    mike carroll · 13 years ago
    those who can't lead with honor will follow with shame. i fear that our president is anything but a leader, and i also fear we will follow in the ways of pre-ww2 europe. barack "neville chamberlain" obama will fumble the ball and our patriots in uniform will have to pick up the ball and run it themselves. does anybody really believe that obama wants to be seen as a winner of a war? come on. we need patton and rambo, and we've got obama and pelosi!
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    Dad of a Soldier · 13 years ago
    Knowing that you called the Civil War in Iraq long before 'The Command' acknowledged it, and reading your thoughts on Afghanistan, gives me a sick feeling in the depths of my soul. My daughter will be heading over there soon. Obama is a pathological narcissist who's agenda has only one goal. His own name in bright lights. God help my daughter and all our troops. His Blessings are our only hope. Godspeed to you Michael as you head over there with them. Thanks for your integrity and will to take a stand for what is right.
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    Larry Wood · 13 years ago
    Read an interesting article today.
    The Russians who fought the Afghan war are saying that we are doing it wrong. That we should be building infrastructure and using the military as protection for that activity, as well as training an Afghan army.
    However, they pointed out that nationalism was not going to take root until there were roads making central control possible.
    Their point being that militarily, we cannot win, Afghanistan is too fragmented, too tribal, too many war lords, too many diverging and competing interests, just as it has been since Alexander tried to conquer Afghanistan. That we needed to focus on employment through developing and building infrastructure to provide opportunity and options to bearing arms and growing poppies. That such was the only hope to promote nation building. The training of the army, etc. would be concurrent with this activity.
    Sounded like a pretty rational assessment based upon getting their asses kicked hard by a bunch of rag heads.
    Maybe, we should listen.

    Regarding Obama losing Iraq.
    Also read that the U.S. turned down unconditional cooperation by Iraq back in 200 . If so, we blew it.
    Obama is not seeing the big picture where Iraq is concerned, because the liberal mind is not trying to understand what we did there, just that they believe we are to get out. Period. If the Shiites and Sunnis go at it, they will not care. Will certainly be Bush's fault.
    What bothers me is the lack of concern for the Christian population and the harm to that group. Religious tolerance is definitely lacking in the new Iraq.
    Obama will blow it with Iraq. And, he will not care on iota.
    I fear, our troops sacrifice will have been in vain.
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    Gladius · 13 years ago
    Wasn't it President Bush who signed the Status of Forces Agreement with Maliki's gov't that says U.S. Forces will be out of Iraqi cities by Jun09, and out of Iraq all together by 2011? Has President Obama accelerated the departure schedule? I believe SecDef Gates has addressed this recently.

    I agree though, AfPak will be Obama's war, and I'm not optimistic.
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    Jim Campbell · 13 years ago
    The President has always said that as far as Iraq is concerned he will take advice and his decisions will be governed by the situation on the ground. At the moment he seems to be following the Bush timetable, BUT, and I think it is an important "But", we are going to keep troops there. We are, as far as I can tell from what the Administration is saying, going to keep a viable "presence" in Iraq so that we can react if need be. So, my feeling is that in general President Obama is doing the right thing. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, I think I share everybody's worries on that one.
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    Pete in Sacramento · 13 years ago
    I set a high value on the eyes-on reporting you're done in the past, and hope you will strive to do more. Pardon me, but this largely falls short of that excellent, difficult journalism I have followed you for. The pullout from Iraq was negotiated on Bush's watch, the schedule has not changed substantially so far as I can tell on Obama's watch although the Obama spin may be different and the Obama team less experienced as yet. AAs far as Afghanistan, wouldn't one expect more troops to be needed if baddies in the bushes are to be faought at the same time Afghan troop training and buildup is increased, and isn't that what Obama is talking?
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    Paul Cox · 13 years ago
    President George W Bush was responsible for the 9/11 hijackings and destruction of the World Trade Center!!!

    What? What am I talking about?

    Well, Michael, with this comment, you are effectively saying that if Iraqis start killing other Iraqis, it's Obama's fault because he's in charge when it starts:

    "But if Iraq descends back into chaos, the Obama-war, a newborn war, will not be a result of U.S. aggression, but of limp leadership intent on fulfilling campaign promises that were misinformed to begin with."

    The only way that I can see a subsequent Iraqi Civil War being Obama's fault is if you somehow figure that it's his fault because he's the one in charge of the US at the time it starts (assuming it does).

    Well, by that thinking, George W Bush was responsible for the 9/11 bombings!

    Now, personally, I think Bush was a horrible, terrible, lousy, awful President... but I certainly don't blame him for the 9/11 attacks. I blame the terrorists who hijacked the planes and their terrorist commanders who dreamed up the mission and their Saudi sponsors who supplied them with the money they needed and the Taliban leaders who gladly hosted them in Afghanistan while they got ready.

    Likewise, if, after the US pullout, Iraq descends into civil war again, I blame the people who are actually fighting in that war, and the leaders who (in the name of Sunni or Shiite extremism) command those fighters.

    As other commenters have pointed out, the reality is that Obama is more or less sticking with the timetable for pulling out of Iraq that President BUSH set up.

    At some point, the Iraqi people have to accept full responsibility for their nation. The United States cannot be the nanny of their proto-nation forever. President Obama is no more responsible for any subsequent Iraq war than President Bush was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

    And if you, or others, want to say "well, Obama should have seen this renewed civil war coming, so it's his fault for not stopping the troop withdrawal and preventing the war" then wouldn't it make equal sense to blame President Bush for so drastically upsetting the balance of power in Iraq in the first place?

    After all, the earlier Iraqi civil war wasn't going on until President Bush decided to invade. Does that make the killing that followed all HIS fault?

    Again, I despise Bush... I think the Iraq war was a giant mistake... but I don't blame Bush for the civil war in Iraq. That's on the Iraqis who're fighting it.

    I think, Michael, that you're stretching a bit because you've been taking some heat for daring to say "we shouldn't torture"; that goes against the radical right wing party line, which states "what we're doing isn't torture, but if it is, those scumbags have it coming anyway."

    They're wrong for saying that, and you're wrong on this one. If it starts again, it's not Obama's war; it's the Iraqi people figuring out their future (sadly, by using force of arms).
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    Richard B. · 13 years ago
    Where are we fighting? Iraq and Afghanistan
    Who is the enemy? A lot more than residents of Iraq and Afghanistan
    What did those who attacked us on 9/11 have in common? Hatred for the West and America in particular. All were Muslims.
    Why were we attacked? Because a religion teaches that we are the Great Satan.
    When did this hatred begin? With the birth of Islam which was about a millennium before the birth of the USA.

    In World War II the enemy was well defined and we fought that enemy wherever they could be fought and we won. In Korea and Vietnam we neither defined the real enemy nor won. If we fail to define who we are fighting and why we are fighting, we will not win. Iraq and Afghanistan are battlegrounds just as were islands in the Pacific and the beaches of Normandy. Our ancestors knew who we were fighting. Do we know who we are fighting?
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    MarcW · 13 years ago
    Our new CinC has a history of poor judgment and bad calls. But I have to agree that it is time for the Iraqis to take charge of their own country. Afghanistan? This is Brits fourth Afghan war.....will the Americans "win". Doubtful. Afghanistan is too fragmented with ethnicities, tribal loyalties, language, and do not share a common culture.

    Then again, the older I get the more non-interventionist I become. Screw the rest of the world. If they want to kill themselves, let them. We need security here too, and our infrastructure is crumbling while we are trying to prop up other countries.

    Can anybody really explain why we are still in Germany after 60 years, Japan for 60 years, Korea for 50+ years, the Sinai for 20+ years, the Balkans for 10+ years, other than we are trying to have bases for power projection? Old thinking. Build up the Navy if you want to project power, and let's look to the Western Hemisphere where the Chinese and old line communists are outmaneuvering us.

    Okay, I'm off my soapbox.
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    Rusty · 13 years ago
    When Bush decided to go after the terrorists responsible for 9/11, the Democrat party, Bush haters & the national media were relentless in their defeatist agenda. In spite of the daily drumbeat of "the war is lost", prisoner abuse at Gitmo, torture, immediate pullout, illegal wiretaps, etc., Bush was able to accomplish much in Iraq.

    We now have a Commander-of-Chief (Obama's words, not mine) of 57 states (Obama's words, not mine) who believes in late term abortiion, stem cell research, handing over $900 million to Israel's enemy, closing Gitmo, signing an executive order to discontinue wiretaps, bailing out banks & the auto industry, while sending a mere 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

    Do you, seriously, think he wants to win this war?

    Do you think he has God's blessings?

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    Languille Lady · 13 years ago
    Why is it that so many of you, and others, have conveniently forgotten that much of what GW Bush did could NOT have been done WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF CONGRESS??? I, too, was disappointed by many of his actions, but I would much prefer having him back than the Marxist we have now, not to mention the Congress of Cowards who are only too happy to tax and spend our hard earned money.
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    Leonard Henry · 13 years ago
    Perhaps we should be examining the Afgan problem from the other end of the telescope. What exactly are the Taliban doing right in this conflict that we can learn from them? They seem to have all the qualities that the Afgan government and army lack. Motivation, organization, innovative battle tactics - a will to sacrifice and win in the long term. Whose training them? They operate with little regional support, officially at any rate. Their weapons are crude by compariison with what our soldiers bring to this fight, yet they seem quite capable of cowing the Afgan army and the general populace. What's the magic, Michael?

    We seem to forget that Americans invented partisan warfare, employing these tactics successfully against a superior British army in the Carolinas, and ultimately driving them out of the Carolinas. Look at the campaigns of Francis Marion. He called his men off their farms and plantations on a moment's notice, assembling days or sometimes hours before a fight, traveled at night with often little to eat for days at a time and going into battle against well equiped and supplied British regulars with sometimes only a couple of rounds of ammunition per man, sometimes no ammunition at all, but picking up a weapon from one of the fallen. Cornwallis never figured it out, but he worried constantly about counteracting the partisan tactics in his letters to and from his officers. To beat a partisan you have to fight like a partisan. I don't think the Afgan army can defeat the Taliban for the same reasons Cornwallis could never defeat the Carolina partisans. Ultimately, this war turns on the relative will of the villiagers who either support or oppose the Taliban. The winner knows the neighborhood and lives in the neighborhood and not a brief visitor, like the British were in the Carolinas.
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    RonF · 13 years ago
    He'll try, anyway. it seems to me that the left has the same attitude towards the war in Iraq as the right has towards use of embryonic stem cells. Each thinks that their central issue is so horrible that they must do everything possible to invalidate the concept that anything good could come out of it. So if people have to die because tissue that would otherwise be of use is being simply thrown out, so be it. And if the Iraqi people have to be sacrificed in order to ensure that we lose the war, so be it.
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    getjdb · 13 years ago
    LBJ in RVN, Carter in Iran,Clinton in Somalia/Kosavo now CIC Obama vs. Afghanistan & Iraq. Just a long line of cluster f^@ks!!!
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    Mark ONeill · 13 years ago
    Like most journalists, Mr. Yon cites examples that back his opinion. Not necessarily the truth.

    I might ask him...what standard is the British Army/Govt. using to consider a battalion "qualified' to operate independently? Is it the same standard used by the U.S. Embedded Trainers? I know of at least 2 Afghan battalions that I fought alongside that were rated as being able to operate independently (and that was 2 years ago now).

    Mr. Yon states that no one can point out a place where Afghans are being trained. I can point to multiple places where Afghans are being trained in large scale numbers on a daily basis. At Pol-e-Charki (suburb of Kabul) for example, we have established a base that runs numerous Enlisted, NCO, and Officer basic courses every year.

    Our Special Forces folks are involved in the training of Afghans (I've witnessed it personally), but perhaps not tho the extent that Mr. Yon feels is appropriate.

    Hard to argue that more can be done and that more should have been done by now to win the war in Afghanistan. It is wrong however, to lead readers to this conclusion based on the examples cited in this piece.
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    Re. Bob McCarton · 13 years ago
    I don't frighten easily but I am frightened now. For too many years I have watched the delicate balance of sensibility wane towards non-existence.

    Now with this crew of Liberals at the helm of this great nation, I am frightened. These are not Democrats. JFK was a true Democrat. These people are at best Marxists in Democrat clothing.

    I am a two tour Vietnam Vet and I remember all to well what happened to South Vietnam after we signed the Peace Accord document and lived up to our end.

    I can see the same thing happening in Iraq as Michael clearly pointed out. Pelosi, Reed, both Clintons and the list goes on with Bojangles as they're leader have proved they don't know what they're doing.

    The best of strategists in history had to alter battle plans according to the ever changing conditions of battle. Even GW Bush and company did this, however, this crew of clowns, given the opportunity I would call them this to their faces, have only one agenda, tear apart and dismantle EVERYTHING the Bush administration accomplished and set in place and to turn America into a complete Marxist country.

    Already the Congress/Senate has screwed up the mission in Afghanistan by tying the hands of our troops. Their mis-use of combat troops. And Bojangles wants to sit with the Taliban?!?!? This type of enemy cannot be reasoned or negotiated with.
    We are in trouble. BIG TROUBLE!! God help us all.
    That's my two cents.
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    kmf · 13 years ago

    I enjoy and respect your reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan, however, I am one of the few Americans who did not support the invasion of Iraq from the very beginning.

    George W Bush and his gang of greedy opportunists bamboozled Americans with the help of our media and members of Congress.

    American soldiers and Iraqi citizens have been injured and killed for profit - period.

    Our American infrastructure, education, healthcare, income levels for the poor and middle class have been put on the back burner for far to long. Why are we spending billions all over the world when Americans at home are suffering? Why is the Pentagon's budget so high? Do we really need 700 bases all over the world?

    I support President Obama 100% - change must come or the USA will not survive. These changes will anger those who have had a free reign to do business as usual - I hope no harm comes to President Obama for he has the support of most citizens and this would push our country into utter chaos...

    Below are some famous quotes from former President Eisenhower:

    "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. "
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    Dr Dennis · 13 years ago
    "American soldiers and Iraqi citizens have been injured and killed for profit - period."

    You must have been studying the Huffington Post for hours before coming up with that conclusion.

    All of this conflict is regrettable, and if, perchance, we did enter Iraq for the wrong reasons, that certainly doesn't mean that we are to simply leave it in shambles, hoping that they can fix it themselves. And that includes even 2009, when it is getting better but not quite ready to have the training wheels removed.

    As to the current President, as an American he has my support too, right up until he fails to uphold the Constitution, but the "change" has so far looked like every other Democrat plan we've seen since FDR. So I certainly "hope" that he finds a promise from his campaign that he can keep- he's already broken some ("no earmarks," "elimination of failing programs,"). Where's the change in all that?
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    Ret. Col. Will · 13 years ago
    We now hear that the Iraq war is a U.S. victory and can only be lost by Obama. This is the latest NEOCON lie to try to justify the terrible Bush idiotic blunder of the illegal invasion of Iraq. So we've won? Never mind that we still have140,000 plus troops there and continue to spend 12 billion a month on it and dozens of Iraqis per week are dying violent deaths as do many of our troops. Also, none of the fundamental political questions that seperate the contentious factionshave been resolved,and the whole country is poised to collapse into genocidal anarchy iif our troops leave too hastily. So we must stay- maybe decades. This is victory? Bush and his fellow war criminals have left Obama with a total Gordian knot , and their greatest hope is that they can frame their Lie, "We left him with a victory and he blew it".
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    Jerry N · 13 years ago
    I can see how the security situation in Iraq could easily deteriorate as US forces draw down and leave. The Al-Qaeda presence is still entrenched in Mosul, they still have the infrastructure to wreak havoc elsewhere, and I have serious doubts about how well the Iraqi government can govern on their own. We'll be building up forces in the Afghan while leaving Iraq unsecured. I say we should maintain our presence in Iraq until AQ is exterminated and Iraqi security forces are totally self-sufficient. As for Afghanistan, we shouldn't be there - period.
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    Betse Lanier · 13 years ago
    Thank you for your objective reporting. It seems to me that your reporting is quite true to your observations. I appreciiate hearing from a thoughful person who is on the ground. Without that information we are running blind here. If I see any political bias, it's for the troops and the people in the Middle East!
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    kevinNJ · 13 years ago
    Michael, you're right regarding the lack of SpecOps in Afghanistan. Seems to me that A Teams would be able to accomplish much progress over there. And if not let's bring in SEALS, Delta, SAS, etc. Like we should have done in Iraq is that we need to fight these type of bad guys on their level. No Mr. USA nice guy. Keep the mainstream anti-US press out and let our guys do their jobs no questions asked. We'd have that place cleaned up in short time. The Taliban are nothing but Barbaric at best. These animals need to be eliminated period.
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    Ciak · 13 years ago
    Thank you Michael for your continued good work.

    In previous comments there are mindless rants and legitimate concerns voiced. The former self expose and do not merit comment. For the latter I would like to add my viewpoint.

    Many Iraqis fled Iraq during the Saddam Hussein era and sought refuge in North America and Europe. After many years exposure to Western Democracy many have returned either temporarily or permanently and have become politically active. They are well educated professionals with an excellent grasp on the political situations in Europe and America as well as their own native country. This can only be a good thing as after 0 years of Saddam's oppression of his country all dissent was bent to subservience or broken. In discussions with one of these individuals who has been very active within the Dawa Party, currently in power, he has told me that for up to a year now Search and Destroy operations have been planned and executed by Iraqis with only minimal support from Coalition Forces. Iraq will not fail in the near or medium term unless external forces are brought to bear.

    He is VERY greatful to George Bush and the American people for freeing his country. He said, "It would NEVER have happened otherwise".

    There are only two entities who are capable and desirous of seeing the return to chaos in Iraq (aside from our own Liberal Cabal);

    One is Al-Qeada. They will not succeed because they have exposed themselves for the face of Evil they are and have been universally rejected by Iraqis. Iraqis have become empowered by this experience and they will not soon forget Al-Qaeda. I here posit that earlier tactical failures of the Coalition Military will have a long term effect far superior to the result we would have seen if the "Surge" had been initiated soon after the invasion.

    The second danger for Iraq is Iran. The ongoing attempts by Iran to undermine the "Iraqi Model" is real and requires constant vigilance and strong responses (eg. Al-Maliki's "Surge" in Basra).

    It has been pointed out, correctly, that the withdrawl timetable was agreed and signed under the Bush Presidency. The fear in the minds of many, I believe, is that if some time in the future Iraq calls for our help to defend themselves that the current Administration would lack the courage or will to come to their aid. THIS WOULD NOT HAPPEN ON W'S WATCH.

    Regards and be safe,

  • This commment is unpublished.
    gijoeblow · 13 years ago
    I know this post will not make it to your page or stay up long if it does. I know you think you are an expert because you went through the Q course and spent a little time in SF but you just do not get it about the use of SF. If you think SF should be on the "platform" conducting basic training for the Afghan Army then you need to take a urinalysis. SF is optimized for combat FID (and UW of course as its primary mission). SF is best used engaging at the tribal level, organizing, advising, and assisting local security forces in remote but critical areas, and helping the locals to develop the intelligence networks and infrastructure, and assistance to internal defense and development programs that will help the Afghans to defeat the insurgency. Your romantic notion about you being some kind of expert who knows and sees all just does not wash with those who have been there and really doing that for a lot longer than you. Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if you reallly know what you are talking about because it is obvious from your writings you are all about you.
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    PeteDawg · 13 years ago
    My...my... I thought with their Messi-uh becoming celebrity in chief the anti-war nuts would have gone into hibernation, but they feel their work won't be done until Iraq is dead rotting carcass. At least someone who would have been inclined to agree with these nutballs saw the light. Angelina Jolie's open letter pleading the case that Iraq should be allowed to succeed, showed a depth of thought that few in Hollywood could even comprehend. It actually made me proud to be an American.

    Whether you agreed with the start of the Iraq War, a stable and relatively democratic Iraq is extremely important to the Iraqi people, America and the world, not necessarily in that order. Which is why I'm confused that these same people didn't have a problem with the Kosovo War and our extended stay there. Could it be because one President was a Democrat and the other a Republican or is race a factor for these shallow people?

    As far as Mr Obama fumbling the Iraq War, if his first 50+ days in office is an indication, the answer is hell, YES! From closing Gitmo, insulting our closest ally's leader (such as giving a blind man a DVD collection and an aide telling the British they aren't special), throwing the eastern Europeans back into the lap of Putin and the latest gaffe of not labeling the sub-humans in Gitmo as "Enemy Combatants". I think Mr. Obama is angling to reclassify them as "BAD DUDES". We aren't slipping back to a 9/10 mentality, we're already there.

    Great post, Micheal...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott Dudley · 13 years ago
    "Going into Iraq was a decision made by many. Pulling out so quickly is a decision made by one man." Wrong. By this logic, both were the decisions on one man. The President.

    After spending a trillion dollars, training and equiping tens of thousands of Iraqi army and police, if they cannot stand on their own two feet, they never will. It is now a political issue and we should not be involved.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    HITCH HIKER · 13 years ago
    The useless drivel spewed by Obama supporters to be found on nearly every website, in all comments on all subjects but particularly on Iraq and Afghanistan, is always based on their version of history, the big bad Bush beaten down horse and a ridiculous "Obama can succeed but can't fail" proposition. The absence of facts, knowledge, whether book or first hand is notable. They have no honest concern for what is taking place today but only who gets the blame for it or the credit. Quoting Ike on the military-industrial complex, well, who would have ever thought of that? Is it racist to observe that things have worsened since Obama took office? I guess that makes me a neocon hate-monger.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    PeteDawg · 13 years ago
    "Going into Iraq was a decision made by many. Pulling out so quickly is a decision made by one man." -----Michael Yon
    Wrong. By this logic, both were the decisions on one man. The President.
    After spending a trillion dollars, training and equiping tens of thousands of Iraqi army and police, if they cannot stand on their own two feet, they never will. It is now a political issue and we should not be involved. -----Scott Dudley

    I guess we can put Scott in the shallow category by his obvious misstatements and selective memory. Yes, President Bush initiated the Iraq War based on intel from a Clinton appointee (Tenet), but it couldn't have STARTED nor SUSTAINED without authorization from Congress. As far as spending trillions, where did you get that number? From the Huffington Post or Moveon... The US has spent $650 billion to date.

    Lastly, from all the recent intelligence terrorists and Iran are still trying to sabotage Iraq's transformation to a stable democracy, FAR from just internal politics. Mr Obama proclaimed that America must help usher in a new peace and to the Muslim world and the terrorists "that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy." As far as I can tell America has been helping Iraqis build a new Iraq since the surge succeeded. Scott, you aren't hoping the President FAILS in Iraq, are you???
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott Dudley · 13 years ago
    Petedawg should have his children read these posts and explain them to him. I made 2 declarative observations if 4 sentences, both of which were correct. The sitting president made the decision to go in and come out. And a trillion dollars have been spent. Not trillions. Kind of the kneejerk mentality that will keep us in that meatgrinder called assghanistan.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Walter Whitaker · 13 years ago
    Those of us, generally, who are against the war in Iraq are very pro soldier. We want the best for our men and women while they are in Iraq and, if they are wounded, when they return. We just want them out of a situation in which they never should have been place.

    We went into Iraq under a cover of lies and intimidations. Saddam Hussein was no threat to the United States of America nor were there any "weapons of mass destruction". He was not aligned with Osama bin Laden, but he was most definitely a cruel and malicious tyrant who should have been vanquished from the face of the earth. But it is not the job nor duty of the United States of America to rid the world of this type of deranged criminal. We primarily went there to secure the oil fields which are pipelines for the wealthy in this country and the rest of the world. We also went there to satisfy the ego of George Bush Sr.

    We picked on a small, almost helpless country and nearly devastated it. Would we ever have the courage to attempt to evict the dictators out of Iran or North Korea? I doubt it.

    The war in Afghanistan was a righteous war since they harbored those who attacked us on 911. Most of us who find the Iraq war vile, senseless and illegal, fully supported Bush's invasion of Afghanistan. It is just a shame that we allowed ourselves to be distracted by the neo-conservatives in our government in our pursuit of the real criminal there, Osama bin Laden.

    George Bush Jr. will be rewarded with a dark passage in the future annals of history of this country and the world.

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